Jess Learmonth shows Olympic form with silver at AJ Bell World Triathlon Leeds
Jess Learmonth underlined her strong form heading into the Tokyo Olympics with a second-place finish in the World Triathlon Championship Series event in her home city of Leeds yesterday.
The 33-year-old, already a qualifier for her first Games later this summer, looks every inch a medal contender after another excellent performance in her home race.
The silver medal was an improvement on the bronze she won two years ago in Millennium Square as she further underlined her podium potential.
What will have been particularly encouraging is her form in the run which had been a concern going into the race but was sustained throughout the final 10km through Roundhay Park.
Maya Kingma of the Netherlands won the race, 14 seconds clear of Learmonth.
“As usual, I’m fairly surprised,” said Learmonth.
“I came into it thinking I just wanted a solid race, to be honest.
“I wanted to work hard on the bike and the swim and that set me up nicely.
“I was able to relax on the run a bit as I had a bit of a buffer and I was able to enjoy myself up until the last lap, when I absolutely died.
“I knew my swim and my bike were solid but my run, I had no idea. I’ve not had that many run sessions and I’ve had a terrible winter so I’m just delighted I’ve been able to put in a performance and it has given me a lot of confidence.
“I had quite a bad injury and I had about three months off running, maybe more – I didn’t run from December through to March, so it has been difficult.”
This performance will now steel the Leeds runner for Tokyo, not that she herself was placing too much significance on its importance, other than another race under her belt.
“I’ve got another seven weeks yet and a lot can happen in that time. Hopefully I can get even fitter, so I’m looking forward to it,” said Learmonth, who will not race now until the Olympics on Tuesday, July 27.
“The crowds made a massive difference. It’s a shame the Olympics are not in Leeds! It gives me that extra percentage. They were so loud, coming up that hill it was ridiculous. I loved it and the weather was beautiful.
“Any race right now is unbelievable. We’re so lucky this event has gone ahead and to get a hit in before Tokyo is even better for us, especially as I didn’t have to travel anywhere.
“It was a bit weird quarantining in my home town when I live down the road [from the venue] but it was all worth it and the event has been amazing. It’s so good all the other age-groups have been able to race as well.”
The AJ Bell 2021 World Triathlon Leeds makes its return to the city for the fifth time and represents the pinnacle of triathlon competition in the UK